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Aug 13, 2013

Mayan Leaders insist on land rights to stop drilling

On September nineteenth the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear an application for an injunction against US Capital Energy. The application was filed by SATIIM and leaders of four communities on the borders of the SarstoonTemash National Park. The oil company has built a large road into the park, has constructed a drill site and exploration will allegedly commence in the very near future. SATIIM et al want those activities halted immediately. It’s a thorny issue with the NGO and Mayan community leaders who insist that the rights of the Mayan people to their land and assets are being ignored. Mike Rudon has been following the story and has an update.


SATIIM and Mayan leaders have not waited on the court to hear an injunction against US Capital Energy. In the meantime they dispatched a letter to the oil company requesting that it suspend its operations. That request was denied. SATIIM’s Executive Director Greg Choc has been at the forefront of the interaction.


Greg Ch’oc, Executive Director, SATIIM

Greg Ch'oc

“We asked our attorneys to write US Capital requesting for them to do an undertaking until the hearing of the substantive matter set for September nineteenth. We received that response from Michael that was written on the 5th. On the 6th, a person by the name of George Patino, I think, invited all the leaders of the buffer communities to a meeting.”


In the letter from US Capital Energy to SATIIM et al, the company’s attorney Michael Peyrefitte chides the NGO and Mayan leaders for the last minute application after so much expenditure by the company.


Greg Ch’oc

“The communities, leaders and our legal counsel have consistently been informing them that those lands on which they are conducting their activities are disputed in terms of ownership and that it’s before the court. They knew full well that these matters were before the court. For them to come and say that their investments and their expenditures need to be the basis for which they need to continue operating. I think it’s irrational.”


With the situation at an impasse, at least pending the hearing, Choc says that the Mayan communities are ready to do what they have to do to protect their rights.



“The hearing is set for September nineteenth. What happens if SATIIM et al…SATIIM and the communities do not get their injunction?”


Greg Choc

“What we have done is instruct our legal counsels to ask the court to bring the date closer, hopefully sometime this month. If that does not happen then I think that we are working with the communities to look at the different options we have. But for the time being we are focusing on trying to get the court to recognize the importance and the urgency of hearing the injunction. We believe that we have a very good case for the injunction…for the court to issue an injunction against US Capital”



“And if it doesn’t?”


Greg Choc

“Well as I said the community is exploring options. I think that there is a sense of frustration, a sense of anger that is brewing and I think that if nothing happens and if the government fails and if the court fails obviously the community will, and may want to exercise whatever way that manifests itself to protect their interests and rights.”


In US Capital Energy’s letter, attorney Michael Peyrefitte claims that government’s rights to what is under the land supersedes the Mayan claim to the land. Choc says that like every legal opinion that is open to interpretation.


Choc and Mayan leaders boycotted the meeting requested by US Capital Energy and instead responded by letter, simply asking if the company’s position had changed.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Mayan Leaders insist on land rights to stop drilling”

  1. history minded says:

    Interesting… no comments here… but Yellow Man gets all the attention..

    We need to unite around this issue also

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